Have you heard the news?
Last month, in Madison, Wisconsin, a panel of connoisseurs at the World Championship Cheese Contest awarded the prize for the best camembert on the planet, and the winning cheese comes from…you guessed it! The best camembert in the world is made in Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec.
Made by the dairy cooperative Agropur, L’Extra camembert is known for its creamy texture and nutty, mushroom flavor. It is a well-known cheese here in Québec, and with this latest honor it will undoubtedly make its mark in other markets as well.
This news has not gone unnoticed in France. In fact, some sectors of the French media have been…well…concerned that camembert, much less the greatest camembert, might be made outside of Normandy.
Le Monde, Le Figaro, Le Parisien, and Le Point reported the Agropur win objectively, in just-the-facts articles that explain, among other things, that “camembert” is not a protected designation. “Camembert” can be — and is — made throughout the world. In Libération, the news was categorized as insolite – unusual – but the reporting was nonetheless calm and respectful. On the other hand, in Paris-Normandie, a newspaper published close to the heart of France’s camembert country, the reporter took no pains to hide his distaste for the tasty Québec cheese. He refers to L’Extra as “pasteurized, lactose-based plaster” that is made in a machine and is but a mere copy of the original. He argues that Québec camembert cannot, by definition, be authentic; it is not made with raw milk, and the milk it is made from does not come from French cows. “Normans,” he exhorts, “don’t be afraid! We know very well, they know very well, that the only true camembert is made in Normandy.”
I will leave the territorial bickering to others. All I know is that L’Extra is extraordinary! Look for it in a supermarket near you.
(Photo Credit: Agropur)